A STORY ON ENVIRONMENT IN INDONESIA
"WE ARE PLANTING TREES TO PROTECT COCOA COMMUNITIES AGAINST FLOODING AND REDUCE SOIL EROSION"
By Ibu Siti, farmer and Disaster Risk Unit member
In the Indonesian province of Lampung, many cocoa-growing communities are vulnerable to natural disasters, such as flooding. To address this issue, Cocoa Life partnered with Save the Children and local partner Watala, to provide farmers with free tree seedlings to prevent soil erosion. This program serves as a country template, which will be adapted on a local level according to each community’s needs. Here, community member Ibu Siti discusses her village’s experience and efforts:
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Our village of Banjar Negeri has been struck by natural disaster many times. We have experienced five floods since 1968. Three years ago, heavy rains caused a flash flood that affected 128 families. Homes were destroyed, people were injured, and farmland was buried by mud. Afterwards, there were health issues, such as skin diseases.
To help us prepare for potential disasters in the future, Cocoa Life is working on Risk Disaster Maps. As part of this program, their partner Save the Children facilitated community meetings to create awareness. They also assisted us in developing an action plan to reduce the impact of a disaster — and strengthen our ability to handle its effects. For example, we formed a Disaster Risk Unit made up of village members. Our role is to provide support before, during, and after a disaster. This includes everything from an early warning system to victim evacuation, recovery and reconstruction.
Our action plan was coordinated with government resources. To mitigate the effects of a natural disaster, farmers received more than 24,700 free fruit seedlings to plant on their farms and along the riverbank. Tree roots hold water to reduce soil erosion. The leaves also decrease the pressure of falling rainwater, which can help prevent landslides.
One of the challenges of this program is changing the mind-set of fellow village members. If they haven’t been impacted, they might not care about these environmental changes. One way to promote awareness is through the youth. They have more access to information than their parents, and they’re the ones who will be affected by our current condition. As part of a Cocoa Life youth and community campaign, 400 youth and community members planted 3,000 trees in Lampung. They’re the next generation, so it’s beneficial to have them involved from the beginning.
We have made progress, and it was accomplished through partnerships. Before, farmers weren’t aware of the government’s free seedlings program. Save the Children worked with Watala, a local NGO, to help our community submit a proposal for access to the Center for Watershed Management, a governmental agency. They also assisted with the distribution. This is an example of how when organizations work together, they can maximize the results.
FROM OUR PARTNER WATALA
"The provision of seedlings through the Cocoa Life program aims to provide economic added value for the community by planting fruit seedlings. Aside from being a conservational effort, we also expect to increase the soil fertility, to raise the available oxygen, to control erosion and to improve watershed conservation."
Edi Karizal, Chief Representative of Watala
FROM OUR PARTNER CENTER FOR WATERSHED MANAGEMENT
"BPDAS (Balai Pengelolaan Daerah Aliran Sungai/ Center for Watershed Management) succeeded in giving farmers access to the government’s tree seedlings through our distribution program. This is a joint effort that together with Cocoa Life supports community participation in land conservation and environment protection. The goal is to give more access to the cocoa communities to get quality seedlings so they can help in conserving the land and grow useful plants in their backyard as well."
Slamet Mulyani, S.P. Ag , Nurseries Manager BPDAS South Lampung